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Be watchful for these common business lawsuits

It is certainly the hope of every entrepreneur that the businesses they form will be successful and avoid legal trouble. However, this is not always the case. When dealing with employees, contracts and customers, there is always the potential for misunderstandings, missteps and disagreements that could escalate.

If you are starting a company or inheriting a family business, you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed with just the day-to-day issues you must contain to keep things running smoothly. The thought of a potential lawsuit may be paralyzing. However, by understanding the types of legal issues that most commonly arise in businesses, you may be able to recognize the factors that could lead to trouble and intercept them before litigation becomes necessary.

How does the 'Fair Use Law' affect your written works?

After spending any amount of time in the entertainment industry, you more than likely took steps to protect your written works. You copyright your materials in order to protect them from someone else using them without your permission or without providing you with appropriate compensation.

That may not be enough to keep someone from using your materials without your permission, however. You confront the individual or company who took your words, and they claim they had the right to use them under the Fair Use Law. Does this law really allow someone else to use your words without your permission or compensation?

Do you know where your property line is? Does your neighbor?

When you purchased your home, you probably received a deed outlining the boundaries of your property. Perhaps you even had a survey done as part of the transaction in order to ensure that the title records were complete and correct. Having these documents and understanding what that means when you look outside may be two different things, however.

Do you know where the boundaries of your property are? If not, you may not realize that new shed, garage or home addition your neighbor plans to build could be on your land. While this may not seem like a big deal right now, if you end up selling your home in the future, it could become a great deal more important. So how do you handle the situation?

Do You Have a Strong Employment Contract in Place?

California business owners know that contracts are an important aspect of doing business. These protect your interests as the owner, as well as the other party involved. It is particularly beneficial to leverage the benefits of employment contracts to shield yourself from potential complications with your employees.

Employment contracts allow you to outline the terms of the employee-employer relationship. From listing responsibilities to benefits and compensation, contracts are useful and beneficial tools for your business. It is practical to draft strong, thoughtfully worded contracts with every person who works for your company. Not only are verbal agreements not enforceable, they can lead to complications in the future.

New measure may eliminate cap on commercial property taxes

Real estate in California is expensive. Various rules and regulations are present to help businesses thrive in this market. Without certain protections, these businesses could potentially drown due to excessive real estate costs.

One such protection is Proposition 13. Proposition 13 was passed in 1978 to protect commercial, industrial and residential property owners from excessive property taxes. Essentially, this law created a cap on property taxes.

There's a Reason They Are Called Trade 'Secrets'

Whether you're already a successful California business owner or a budding entrepreneur, you likely consider protecting your assets a high priority. When it comes to business, not all assets are physical property. In fact, many creative thinkers have built an entire business market around intellectual and digital properties and products. In short, you need to worry about more than money when focusing on protecting your business rights and interests.

It's equally important to protect your trade secrets as well. This type of asset includes information, procedures or techniques your company uses to manufacture its products and promote success. Another way to put it is that your trade secrets comprise all confidential information that gives your business a competitive edge.

Intellectual Property and the Fashion Industry

The success of every fashion-based company is built upon their intellectual property. Without intellectual property protection, prominent fashion designers and suppliers would die out, simply overwhelmed by the clones and copies that are selling for a fraction of the price.

As you are launching your fashion business, be sure you are well-protected by including the following components to your intellectual property portfolio. 

Fourth Amendment, Search and Seizure, Return of Property, Business Records, and Over Seizure

Often, the first time a person becomes aware that he or she is the target of a white collar criminal investigation is with the execution of a search warrant on his or her business and residence, where, pursuant to the search warrant, a law enforcement agency seizes a large portion or, sometimes, all of a company's corporate, business, and financial records. This can be a stressful time, and the government's over-seizure of your company's records can complicate things both legally and, as a practical matter, for you if you seek to continue to run your business.

Vindictive Prosecution and Dismissing Improper Indictments

Sometimes, the government crosses the line and files charges for punitive purposes. This is a clear violation of a defendant's Fifth Amendment right to due process, which is known as vindictive prosecution, and an indictment brought against a defendant for such an improper and punitive purpose may be dismissed. More specifically, the United States Supreme Court has held that "[a] prosecutor violates due process when he seeks additional charges solely to punish a defendant for exercising a constitutional . . . right," United States v. Gamez-Orduno, 235 F.3d 453, 462 (9th Cir. 2000), citing Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357, 363 (1978), which warrants dismissal of the criminal case, if the defendant can prove the punitive purpose. See e.g., Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21, 28-29 (1974) (prosecutor impermissibly obtained a felony indictment resulting in a five to seven-year sentence after the defendant had received a six-month sentence for an assault and had exercised an absolute right of appeal and to trial de novo allowed under North Carolina law).

California, Fraud, Statute of Limitations, and Delayed Discovery

Sometimes, a plaintiff files an untimely lawsuit, which results in the devastating end result that the plaintiff will be barred from receiving any recovery by California's unforgiving statute of limitations. This is especially true with fraud claims, as the statutory provisions and caselaw can be a minefield for those who are not familiar with California law.

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